The Dengvaxia scare may have contributed to an outbreak of measles in parts of the Philippines, Malacañang said Thursday, while also acknowledging Public Attorney’s Office Chief Persida Acosta’s “passion” for cases related to the controversial vaccine.
“Is that the reality [that the Dengvaxia probe caused vaccine scare]? Was the scandal what discouraged people from vaccinating? It seems so,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told Palace reporters.
The number of measles fatalities at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila has elevated to 60 last Friday, with a three-year-old baby as the latest victim.
The hospital spokesperson, Dr. Ferdinand de Guzman said they expect the measles patients number to further increase. According to him, we are just in the first half of the expected fever rash season.
A measles outbreak has already been declared in Metro Manila and four nearby regions, namely Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Region VI (Western Visayas) and Region VII (Central Visayas).
In the deaths of children due to measles, Senator Risa Hontiveros called for the resignation of Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta to resign for allegedly contributing to significantly decrease public trust in the vaccination program of the government.
According to the senator, Acosta “brought shame and embarrassment” to an important government institution by “sowing fear” of vaccination. It is more likely attributing the deaths of children due to measles.
“And because of this, 55 children have lost their lives to measles, and an outbreak now threatens four regions of our country. I call on Acosta: resign your post,” she said in a statement.
From the start, the senator said she already expressed her disappointment in Acosta for not including experts from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) in their Dengvaxia investigation.
The expertise of UP-PGH officers could have contributed to PAO’s probe, ended speculations that the issue was being politicized, and prevented unnecessary panic and fear among the public Hontiveros noted.
“Acosta’s scaremongering and politically-motivated investigations on the Dengvaxia issue, that defied science and the advice of experts, sowed fear in the hearts of so many parents to have their children vaccinated since the past year. Because of her antics, faith in the advice of vaccine experts and doctors is on the decline. When there was an opportunity to clarify, she instead created confusion,” the senator claimed.
Measles is a highly preventable disease, and in many communities vaccinations against measles and other diseases such as polio and tetanus are free, she said.
Meanwhile, Acosta said that she supports the governments vaccination programs.
“I firmly reiterate my support for our DOH and its vaccination programs. I am urging the government to increase its efforts towards greater vaccination coverage, especially in urban poor localities and far-flung areas where children are prone to measles and other preventable diseases,” she said.
Acosta even said that her family has completed vaccinations as
She also separated her actions from the vaccination scare and reiterated that DOH was mandated to promote immunization programs.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has defended Acosta, noting that the PAO chief was only doing her job.
The Palace noted said that Acosta should not be blamed.
People are advised to have their children vaccinated.
The Dengvaxia fraud is should not hinder our children the protection from diseases they needed.